SF IndieFest 2013
By Don Simpson | February 4, 2013
The 15th San Francisco Independent Film Festival (SF IndieFest) features mind-blowing, enlightening, genre-bending independent films from around the world. Running February 8th thru 21 at the Brava Theatre, Roxie Theatre, Vortex Room, SF IndieFest 2013 will open with the U.S. premiere of Michel Gondry’s much anticipated The We and the I. Other must see screenings at SF IndieFest 2013 include: All the Light in the Sky, Antiviral, Be Good, Berberian Sound Studio, The Ghastly Love of Johnny X, I Declare War, The International Sign for Choking, It’s A Disaster, The Last Elvis, The Revisionaries, Sightseers, Simon Killer, Sun Don’t Shine, Video Diary of a Lost Girl and Wrong.
SF IndieFest 2013 also offers a plethora of truly inspired parties — including the Big Lebowski Party, the Roller Disco Party, and the 80s Power Ballad Sing-A-Long Party. February 8th is the Opening Night Party at the Brava Theater with DJ Haute Mess (Brass Taxx), an open bar, nibbles and a performance by Boyd Tinsley, violin player in the Dave Matthews Band, playing live with local band Ghost Town Gospel.
Check out the SF IndieFest website for more information on screenings, parties and tickets.
Smells Like Screen Spirit loves San Francisco almost as much as we love cinema, so we are proud to have this opportunity to provide our readers with our thoughts on several of the fantastic (in more ways that one) films screening at SF IndieFest 2013. And, stay tuned as many more SF IndieFest 2013 reviews will be coming your way during the next two weeks!!!
All the Light in the Sky
I cannot think of another Joe Swanberg film that has spent this much time outdoors or focused this much on nature; Swanberg has always seemed much more comfortable shooting indoors, in confined spaces. Additionally, the conversations of Swanberg’s films have almost always revolved around his characters’ existential crises; societal and world issues, such as environmentalism or feminism, have never been as front and center as this. (Our review from AFI Fest 2012.)
As a first film, Antiviral is pretty freaking amazing. It is very rare that a first film is produced with such high production value and accented with quality supporting actors like Malcolm McDowell; but, of course, with Cronenberg’s impeccable pedigree, what else would we expect? (Our review from Fantastic Fest 2012.)
Be Good does an excellent job of openly and honestly reflecting upon the existential struggle of parenting. As Mary and Paul quickly discover, babies can bring about an unexpected maturation process and quickly change one’s priorities in life. (Our SF IndieFest 2013 review.)
Berberian Sound Studio
While the confoundingly subdued Berberian Sound Studio refuses to deliver much in the way of thrills or chills, it does offer a very poignant critique of the Italian giallo film industry. This is a film about the exploitation of actors and crew — by directors and producers who wholeheartedly believe that the privilege of working on such fine pieces of cinematic art legitimize their sexual (and psychological) harassment — as well as the stingy bureaucracy of low budget film productions. (Our SF IndieFest 2013 review.)
The Ghastly Love of Johnny X
Writer-director Paul Bunnell probably could have dreamed all of this up during his own fever-pitched nightmare, but The Ghastly Love of Johnny X is drenched in references (some more obscure than others) to teen films, B-movies and midnight cult classics from the 1950s and 60s. The Ghastly Love of Johnny X is drenched with a loving nostalgia for the campy style of filmmaking that few modern day directors have attempted to replicate. (Our SF IndieFest 2013 review.)
I Declare War
I Declare War brilliantly captures the naïveté of adolescence, specifically the inability to separate reality from make-believe. The kids have created a dangerously violent world in which there are no lines designating what is too far. Rules used to keep the kids in check, but rules only work if everyone abides by them; just as loyalty, love, and friendship only bind people together when those feelings are authentic. (Our review from Fantastic Fest 2013.)
The International Sign for Choking
As a film that is essentially about the disassociation and loneliness of traveling alone to a foreign country, Zach Weintraub’s The International Sign For Choking shows the passing-like-ships-in-the-night relationships that seem to go hand-in-hand with solo international treks. (Our review from AFI Fest 2012.)
It’s A Disaster
It’s a Disaster is an impeccably-written, dark-as-a-moonless-night satire that hearkens back to the glory days of classic comedy. Existing in the surreal ether somewhere between Preston Sturges and Woody Allen, writer-director Todd Berger takes on disaster films as well as the trope of trapping characters in one location; all the while, Berger and cinematographer Nancy Schreiber beautifully choreograph the on screen events to Altman-esque precision. (Our review from the 2012 Austin Film Festival.)
The Last Elvis
Whenever Carlos is not rehearsing or performing, he is listening to (or watching) recordings of Elvis’ live performances. The tunnel-visioned focus of his career has turned him into an incredibly self-absorbed human being. If I did not know any better, I would think Carlos’ Elvis persona is merely an escape from the mundane reality of his working class existence, not the destined role that he exclaims it to be. (Our review from the 2012 LA Film Fest.)
A card-carrying Christian fundamentalist, Don McLeroy leads the charge to include “intelligent design” (a.k.a. Creationism) in Texas textbooks. This is a man who firmly believes that the Earth is only 6,000 years old (because the Bible tells him so). (Our review from the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.)
Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers humorously observes masculine and feminine aggression, sticking with (and possibly satirizing) the gender stereotypes of men being overly-methodical and women being overly-emotional. Violence for each of the characters is triggered and unleashed much differently, and they both rationalize their violent acts in different ways as well. (Our review from the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.)
What does the camera’s eye tell us to think about Simon, as the observational — practically cinéma vérité — cinematography creates an even further allusion of truth. In many ways, Simon Killer plays like a deconstruction of perceived cinematic realism, picking away at its inherent layers of dishonesty. (Our SF IndieFest 2013 review.)
Sun Don’t Shine
Building upon the already nightmarish elements of the narrative, Sun Don’t Shine unfolds with the oblique stream of consciousness of a dream — such as when Terrence Malick-esque voiceovers follow the characters’ thoughts as they are lulled into daydreams by the ephemeral rhythms and patterns of the roadside imagery and the unbearably balmy Florida air. (Our review from SXSW 2012.)
Video Diary of a Lost Girl
Video Diary of a Lost Girl is a highly imaginative mash-up of classic horror films, midnight cult classics, German expressionism and 1920s cinema (the title itself is a direct reference to Georg Wilhelm Pabst’s Diary of a Lost Girl , starring Louise Brooks). Filtered through the hyper-stylistized degradation of a VHS deck with bad tape heads, certain colors are totally blown out and over-saturated, while other tones barely register. This is one crazy, visual head-trip of a film that plays as the feminist counterpart to the early works of Tim Burton, John Waters and David Cronenberg. (Our SF Indie Fest 2013 review.)